Wednesday, February 16, 2011
A newly minted green and white sign on Barrett Drive, just west of the intersection with Alameda, announces a long-awaited addition to the public park resource base for the community.
But, be careful - the sign and the recent dramatic removal of the 30-plus-acre orchard at the site have started a swirl of rumors.
"We have no specific plans for the parcel beyond the already approved conditional use allowing an extension of the Indian Creek Trail," said Lori Stirn, Hood River Parks and Recreation Special District director.
In fact, parks district staff members are hoping to get a lot of public input on the potential use of the property before doing much more than grading and grass seeding.
Addressing one of the biggest potential rumors, Stirn responded to the question of whether ball fields will be placed on the property.
"Adding new ball fields has always been a part of the master plan for the district," said Stirn, "but the Barrett property has an approved conditional use permit which allows only passive recreation. Ball fields are not considered passive recreation at this time."
As to whether ball fields might be added in the future, Stirn clarified the current status of that possibility.
"We do not have the money to try to proceed through an exception process on the conditional use," she said. "We estimate that would cost close to $100,000 and would not guarantee that ball fields would become an allowable use, even after expending those funds. We don't think this is a wise use of limited dollars."
Ball fields aside, the parks district has a goal to find good public uses allowable under the current restrictions. Stirn noted that playgrounds, walking and biking paths, community gardens and radio-controlled toy zones are all currently allowable "passive recreation" possibilities.
Accessory park elements such as restrooms, parking lots, storage buildings and access points are most likely included as allowable under current law, but are also still being reviewed by parks staff, the Oregon Department of State Lands and the Department of Land Conservation and Development.
Although funding is not yet in hand to develop any of the possible uses for the land, Stirn provided a summary of actions now underway and background on those actions.
Land clearing: Under the acquisition grant obtained to aid in the purchase of the property Stirn noted, "We were required to remove the orchard to meet their guidelines."
Some basic grading and grass seeding will be taking place into early summer.
Open to the public: Likewise, in order to fulfill those grant funding guidelines, the property is now technically open to the public - although it would be wise to bring your mud-wading boots. Usability should increase by early summer.
Trail in process: In order to complete the approved new planned portion of Indian Creek trail (to run along the northern border of the site), parks staff must secure the cooperation of two neighboring property owners.
If successful in creating the continuity through neighboring properties, the trail path will be graded and seeded with grass, and will include some graveled areas where standing water may be an issue. Additional bank stabilization must also be done. The related easement negotiations are still under way.
Neighbor property demarcations: Areas where the parks property abuts or encircles neighboring property are now being demarcated through a combination of fencing and plantings. Individual property owners have been negotiating out preferences directly with parks representatives.
Planning and participation: The original master plan for the parks district was created in 1998 and updated in 2005. With decisions needing to be made on the Barrett property, Stirn hopes that planned public meetings in early May will result in both an updated master plan and specific plans for the Barrett property. Public participation is essential.
Comment period now open: If you can't wait to participate in the planned master plan public meetings, you are encouraged to send questions, comments and concerns directly to Stirn, other parks district staff or board members at any time.
The public may also attend any of the regularly scheduled meetings on the third Wednesday of every month at 7 p.m. at the Hood River Aquatic Center (unless otherwise noted).
Comments may be directed to the parks district e-mail at Parksandrec@gorge.net or to the street address at: 1601 May Ave., Hood River, 97031. Future master planning meetings will be announced to the public.
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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"
Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge